In the last election, I chose to stay registered in California because I wanted to vote against Proposition 8, standing firm against the entreaties of student volunteers to register in Pennsylvania (a Presidential Election swing state). Note: registering in one state does not revoke residency in another state. But it is a commitment to a different community.
I was thinking about it again about a week ago. I was talking with a great adviser about some prestigious post-secondary scholarships for I am planning on applying. I mentioned I was from California and she was like “ooooh, nooo” (ok, not so dramatic, but it was implied). You see, applicants for the kinds of scholarships compete within their states. So, that means a California (population 36,457,549) resident will have to compete in the same process as an Alaska (population 670,053) resident. See my problem?
(A certain loved one is also thinking about his residency, because his college’s tuition for residents is signifigantly lower than that for non-residents. This is true of many state-funded schools in the US.)
Finally, I was reading this Economist article about divorce in an age of bi-national marriages, and started wondering what (ethically) residency meant to me. I think these are my central questions:
Does it have to do with a sense of place, of belonging?
Should it be a function of financial practicality?
Does residency imply community involvement, and, if so, what to do if you are involved in multiple communities?
(This last question is of particular import to netizens, the natural residents of the internet, who have the opportunity to serve a truly global community)
I would feel, on this Wednesday afternoon, that my residency must be a mix of those factors. My final residency (if I have one) will be where I plan to spend my life. Whose elections I intend to influence. Who parks I intend to use for years, not just months. Whose community I am committed to. I don’t know if I will move around, city/state/country hop seeking jobs and influence. I may. And my legal residency may change. But what won’t change is my commitment, that, someday (hopefully soon-ish in geological terms) I will find what my final residency will be.
“A man without a vote is man without protection.”–Lyndon B. Johnson